NASA’s plans to return to the moon

Varenya Rao-Mallela, Lifestyle Editor

NASA is planning to soon launch the first mission of their Artemis Program, Artemis I. The purpose of the Artemis Program is to create a human facility in space for lunar, and, eventually, Martian exploration. 

NASA’s Artemis Program will contain many missions, each gradually helping build a structure for safe, intricate and efficient space probing.

NASA’s website describes, “The first in a series of increasingly complex missions, Artemis I will be an uncrewed flight test that will provide a foundation for human deep space exploration, and demonstrate our commitment and capability to extend human existence to the Moon and beyond.”

NASA’s aerospace engineers designed the vital Space Launch System and the Orion Spacecraft. Together, The Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and the Orion ship have been designed to safely send humans to deep space.

According to the NASA website, “The Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion spacecraft are critical to NASA’s exploration plans at the Moon and beyond.”

Artemis I has been delayed three times in the past. On Aug. 29, a temperature sensor in an engine of the SLS rocket was faulty, pushing back the launch date to Sep. 3. On this date, a leaking tank of hydrogen propellant pushed back the launch for retesting complications. The predicted launch date was Sep. 27, however the date was rescheduled once again due to complications with Hurricane Ian. 

NASA’s blog site addresses, “With the Artemis I Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft safety in the Vehicle Assembly Building after rolling back from Launch Pad 39B Monday night, NASA continues to prioritize its employees as Hurricane Ian approaches the Kennedy Space Center area.”

People have expressed concern with the constant delays. 

“I think NASA should stop announcing delays,” JMHS student Kathleen Morrow (’25) said. “Instead of stalling, they should take the time to perfect their design and come up with a concrete announcement.”

When the mission is finally launched, it will be a trial run to test the systems and management integrity of the SLS and Orion Spacecraft. The following mission, Artemis II, will contain astronauts who will participate in a “flight test” orbiting the Moon. The third mission will send the first woman and the first person of color to the Moon. 

NASA’s site also says, “We selected an initial team of NASA astronauts – the Artemis Team – to help pave the way for the next lunar missions including sending the first woman and next man to walk on the lunar surface in 2024”.

The technologies used for the Artemis Moon Program are increasingly essential to the exploration of Mars. NASA has teamed up with commercial space programs to develop and enhance said technologies in order to create efficient launch, landing and living for humans in deep space.

“Together, we will define this incredible Artemis Generation of science and lunar exploration that doesn’t stop at the Moon, rather, prepares humanity for our next giant leap, Mars” NASA wrote on their website.